SBS and Screen Australia select 12 teams for Digital Originals

The cast of 'A Beginner's Guide to Grief'. From left Rory Walker, Cassandra Sorrell, Anna Lindner, Carlo Ritche, and Georgina Naidu.

Twelve teams of emerging creatives from under-represented backgrounds will have the chance to pitch their drama projects to SBS, NITV, and Screen Australia as part of this year’s Digital Originals initiative, with a week-long workshop for the first round of selected applicants commencing this week.

Delivered by Screen Australia, SBS, and NITV, the workshop features sessions focusing on a range of short-form content creation skills and will also include case studies of past Digital Originals and other dramas.

Filmmaker Rosie Lourde will facilitate the sessions, with teams also able to access a host of guest presenters and industry figures, including Sierra Teller Ornelas, Leah Purcell, Michael McMahon, Kodie Bedford, and Corrie Chen.

The workshop will culminate in teams pitching their projects to Screen Australia, SBS, and NITV on June 14, from which a selection will be chosen to take their projects into further development.

Of those, up to three will be chosen for production funding and commissioning with SBS, NITV, and Screen Australia.

Chen said Digital Originals was an important platform for the next generation of Australian creatives.

“Having gotten my start in short form filmmaking, it is extremely important to me that the industry continue to support initiatives like Digital Originals,” she said.

“An opportunity like this not only provides a space for exciting voices to share their unique stories, it’s a chance to learn and access valuable support along the way.”

The 2022 Digital Originals will follow previous titles, such as Tasmanian murder mystery The Tailings and Western Australian comedy Iggy & Ace, both of which premiered on SBS On Demand last year, as well as Robbie Hood and Homecoming Queens, produced under SBS’s previous Short-Form Content Initiative.

Sara West and Josh Virgona are ‘Iggy & Ace’.

The next Digital Original set to premiere is South Australian drama A Beginner’s Guide to Grief.

SBS Scripted commissioning editor Loani Arman said the broadcaster had been impressed with the quality of applications to come through in the program’s third year.

“In preparation for pitching to SBS, NITV, and Screen Australia, the workshop will support the teams to interrogate their stories and further develop their projects,” she said.

“Not only will they have the chance to gain insight from incredible industry practitioners, but also learn from each other, building connections with some of the most exciting new talent in the country.”

NITV commissioning editor Marissa McDowell said this year’s cohort would continue Digital Originals’ “impressive legacy”.

There is a diverse range of projects in the mix from across Australia, with a large First Nations contingent of creatives showcasing unique perspectives on classic genres,” she said.

“I look forward to seeing how the teams further develop their projects throughout the workshop.”

Screen Australia head of online, Lee Naimo, said he “couldn’t be more excited” for the 12 teams to take the next steps in their careers.

“In this third year of Digital Originals, we’re again seeing how valued this initiative is, with over 170 applications from across Australia,” he said.

The creative teams taking part in the 2022 Digital Originals workshop this week, and their projects, are:

Borroloola (NSW)
Description: After her grandmother passes away, a bush girl goes through Sorry Business with her extended family and discovers her grandmother had a secret life.
Genre: Drama
Team: Julia Moriarty (writer), Judi McCrossin (producer)

Confinement (QLD)
Description: A new migrant mother must battle postpartum depression and a tyrannical confinement nanny with seemingly nefarious intentions.
Genre: Thriller
Team: Jacqueline Lim (writer), Lark Lee (producer)

Dark Matter Don’t Matter (NT)
Description: After the mass evacuation of Earth, a small Aboriginal community is left behind and decide to take matters into their own hands… by launching themselves to the stars.
Genre: Comedy, science fiction
Team: Tamara Whyte (writer), Isaac Lindsay (writer), Warren Milera (writer), Philip Tarl Denson (producer)

Earshot (NSW/VIC)
Description: When a seemingly happy Indian-Australian actress is asked to record the last messages of a missing immigrant woman for a true crime podcast, embodying one of the justice system’s forgotten victims causes her to obsess over the case – and finally acknowledge the invisible violence in her own life.
Genre: Drama, thriller, crime
Team: Vidya Rajan (writer), Alistair Baldwin (writer), Renée Marie Petropoulos (writer/director)

Fully Receivable (VIC)
Description: When a corporate leadership trip in a national park starts off horrifically with the white facilitator dead, it’s up to Sheila Phounpadith, the Accounts Receivable Manager, to prove she isn’t the murderer.
Genre: Comedy, crime, mystery
Team: Michelle Lee (writer), Tahnee McGuire (director)

Karaoke Kingdom (NSW)
Description: In a haunted karaoke parlour at the heart of Sydney’s Chinatown, overworked millennial Cherry Wong starts to fall in love – but she’s too busy untangling the problems of her eccentric patrons and the three ghosts that haunt the halls.
Genre: Drama, romance, magic realism
Team: Claire Cao (writer), Debbie Zhou (producer), Bruce Koussaba (director)

Let’s Break Up (QLD)
Description: Anisa Nandaula, is hiding a secret life of dating and comedy from her conservative Muslim mother. When her first time having sex lands her in hospital with a life-threatening mystery illness, she must face the past in order to heal herself and her relationships before it’s too late.
Genre: Comedy, drama
Team: Anisa Nandaula (writer), Sara Taghaode (producer), Tilly Towler (producer)

Moni (NSW)
Description: Moni, now in his mid-30s, still single, Samoan, and gay, is alone. Truly alone. That is until his parents return from the dead as their 20-something selves, to help their son make peace and seek the life he kept hidden from them.
Genre: Comedy, drama
Team: Taofia Pelesasa (writer/creator), Eliorah Malifa (producer), Alana Hicks (director)

Moonbird (TAS)
Description: An 11-year-old pakana boy takes on the responsibilities of an adult when his father drowns on a remote Mutton Bird Island in Bass Strait.
Genre: Coming of age, psychological drama.
Team: Nathan Maynard (writer), Adam Thompson (writer), Matthew Newton (producer), Catherine Pettman (producer), Courtney Gibson (producer)

Description: An awkward serial killer becomes entwined in a revenge plot against a religious cult that are brainwashing the youth of Hobart.
Genre: Comedy, drama, horror
Team: Samuel Paynter-Nuggin (writer), Andrew Arbuthnot (producer)

Red Dress Woman (WA)
Description: A teenage Aboriginal girl must take down a racist superhero terrorising her town, before she becomes its next victim.
Genre: Drama, horror
Team: Gary Hamaguchi (writer/director/producer), Brooke Collard (producer)

Warm Props (WA)
Description: 8 hour call. 40 degree heat. Culturally clueless crews and locals who haven’t spoken to each other in decades. What could possibly go wrong with this casting call?
Genre: Comedy, drama
Team: Jub Clerc (writer/director), Jodie Bell (producer)